Norwich University senior, athletic director and Darn Tough Vermont® employee had scenes to savor Saturday

Although Norwich University sports fans’ attention usually falls to competing athletes and their chosen playing surface, Saturday brought a triptych of off-field triumph as senior Chase Panza, Darn Tough Vermont® employee Theresa Hopkins and Norwich Athletic Director Tony Mariano were honored.

On the football team’s Senior Day on Sabine Field at Haynes Family Stadium, President Mark Anarumo escorted Panza, a center on Norwich’s offensive line, onto the field when Panza’s mother couldn’t make the trip from Moorpark, California, near Los Angeles. 

“You have continually fostered a culture of family among students, athletes, and our community at Norwich.” Norwich senior football player Chase Panza in a letter to President Mark Anarumo

Panza, who is a 2nd lieutenant in the Corps of Cadets, is majoring in criminal justice and, according to his Norwich Athletics online profile, aspires to an FBI career. In an email, Panza thanked Anarumo for his leadership. 

“You have continually fostered a culture of family among students, athletes, and our community at Norwich and I could not think of anybody better to try and ask,” Panza wrote.

Thank you, Tony

At halftime of the football game, in a 50-yard-line ceremony, New England Men’s and Women’s Athletic Conference Executive Director Patrick Summers awarded a crystal football trophy to Norwich Athletic Director Tony Mariano in thanks for his helping establish the conference’s football and for years of service to Norwich University. 

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New England Men’s and Women’s Athletic Conference Executive Director Patrick Summers, left, awards a crystal football trophy to longtime Norwich Athletic Director Tony Mariano on Saturday on Sabine Field at Haynes Family Stadium. (Photo by Jasmine Olson ’24/Norwich University Athletics.)

Mariano will retire after 44 years at Norwich when sports schedules complete in the spring. 

The NEWMAC formed April 8, 2015, when Norwich banded with Catholic University of America, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Maine Maritime Academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Springfield College and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Conference play started in fall 2017; football became the conference’s 20th championship sport and ninth men's offering.

Maine Maritime discontinued football in August 2020. On June 23, the NEWMAC said it will add Maritime College, part of the State University of New York system, for football on July 1, 2023. The Privateers competed in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference, its home since 2009, in 2021 and will continue to do so in 2022.

“Tony was an instrumental leader in the establishment and success of NEWMAC football, and for that we are very grateful,” the Rev. William Wick said over the public address system to cheers and applause. “On behalf of the current NEWMAC members … we honor and congratulate Tony for his long impact for us all, his hard work, dedication and commitment to NCAA Division III football.”

Getting the drop

On Saturday night, at the men’s hockey opener against Newport, Rhode Island’s Salve Regina University, Hopkins, winner of Darn Tough’s Drop the Puck contest, ventured onto Kreitzberg Arena’s ice for a pregame ceremony.

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Darn Tough Vermont® packager Theresa Hopkins ceremonially drops a puck between Norwich University senior forward Scott Swanson and Salve Regina junior forward George Sennott before Saturday’s Norwich Hockey Sock Toss game at Kreitzberg Arena. (Photo by Dr. Frank Vanecek/Norwich University.)

Hopkins works as a packager at Darn Tough Vermont, a Northfield, Vermont company, that donated 1,500 pairs of socks for fans to throw onto the ice after Norwich scored its first goal of the night.

The socks will be donated to four Vermont nonprofits, The Veterans’ Place in Northfield, Trinity United Methodist Church in Montpelier, Montpelier Food Pantry and the Committee on Temporary Shelter in Burlington. (Other socks were collected at the Wise Campus Center and a Northfield Savings Bank branch in Northfield.)

Hopkins, in her third year with Darn Tough, dropped the puck ceremonially between Norwich University senior forward Scott Swanson and Salve Regina University junior forward George Sennott. About 100 Darn Tough employees attended Saturday’s game.

Fans got to toss socks at the second period’s 12:16 mark, when Norwich University junior forward Phil Elgstam scored a power-play goal, assisted by Devon Becker and Braedyn Aubin.

* * *

EPILOGUE: Norwich’s frenzied sports Saturday yielded two thrilling overtime wins.

In the hockey game, after regulation yielded a 2-2 tie, Norwich topped Salve Regina 3-2 on sophomore defenseman Joe Nagle’s extra-period goal, assisted by Becker and Clark Kerner.

The men’s soccer team advanced to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference semifinals by topping Emmanuel College 5-4 in penalty kicks. (Regulation and overtime had produced a 3-3 tie.)

Soccer goalkeeper Robert Wagenseller, a junior, stopped Emmanuel’s final penalty kick to seal the result and was dogpiled in the end zone by joyous teammates. Joseph Thongsythavong’s goal in regulation’s 80th minute created the extra-time-forcing deadlock.

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